The Hornets, as the franchise has been known since it was founded in Charlotte in 1988, reportedly plan to change their name to the Pelicans as early as the 2013-14 season. Rebranding the team in honor of Louisiana’s state bird would be a positive step forward from the name that has been mostly nonsensical since the organization relocated to the Crescent City in 2001.
Still, ‘Pelicans’ is not a perfect nickname. Of the seven teams that are currently named after animals — Bobcats, Bucks, Bulls, Grizzlies, Hawks, Raptors, Timberwolves — the Pelicans would be the least-threatening creature by far. And the teal-and-purple color scheme the franchise brought with it is expected to die a quick death in honor of a more Pelican-friendly look.
Great team names are hard to come by. In more than a decade of its existence, major professional basketball has boasted only a handful of truly unique, clever, memorable names. From mispronounced classics like the Boston Celtics to geographically inaccurate puzzlers like the Los Angeles Lakers, pro hoops has contributed its share of follies to sports team-naming conventions. The impending death of the New Orleans Hornets gives us a chance to appreciate some of the times that teams got it right.
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